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Transgression and Cheerfulness: Victoria Abril in Locarno!

Transgression and Cheerfulness: Victoria Abril in Locarno!

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A female exuberance which can dance on the threads of transgression and – at the same time – of cheerfulness, showing a versatility which is able to find the right harmony, whether when the score imposes sentimental roles or when it turns towards more dramatic tonalities. Those are some of the gifts which build up Victoria Abril's performance charisma, one of the most histrionic and complete actresses on the European cinema stage, so great as to have become along the years the most precious muse of directors such as Vicente Aranda and Pedro Almodóvar.

The Festival del film Locarno has then decided to honor this "Parisian Spaniard" (she lives in the French capital since 1982) with a second Excellence Award Moët & Chandon, after the one designated to Christopher Lee.

But Victoria Abril's "caliente" and multifaceted talent demonstrated to have immediate impact on the stage since the childhood, when she moved her first steps as ballerina - according to her own biography. She became an actress a few years later, in the precocity of her teenage years. First of all she takes part to the comedy Obsesión, directed by Francisco Lara Polop (1975), then – the following year – she is already the Queen Isabella in Richard Lester's Robin and Marian (1976), working next to Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn.
That is the beginning of a path that drives her to appear also on television, earning popularity. But the big turning point comes when Abril catches the eye of Vicente Aranda. It is 1977 and Cambio di sesso represents the start of a long partnership with ten roles as main character in the filmography of the Catalan director – among them, great successes such as Amantes, which permits her to win the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlinale 1991. In the movie, playing a role in the middle way between a dark lady and a flamenco dancer, Abril becomes the turbid cornerstone of a love triangle, which is doomed to end in tragedy. Sensual ambiguities will also be part of her career when she enters the gaudy and provocative court of Pedro Almodóvar, between the end of Eighties and the beginning of Nineties.

And this is a gallery of characters which become part of collective memory: the drug addicted pornstar who is tied to the bed in Átame! (1990), the bizarre newscaster in Tacones lejanos (1991) or the anchorwoman who takes advantage of obsessive desire of voyeurism in Kika (1993). A long, visual parade between jealousies, revenges, infant traumas and homicides which puts Victoria Abril on the top of a pedestal made of visibility, but always keeping ready to enlarge the boundary of her collaborations.

In addition to her career as singer, on the one hand the actress takes part to movies directed by international directors (from Nagisa Ōshima to Giancarlo Giannini, not to mention Teona Strugar Mitevska), on the other hand she plays in great Iberian successes, such as Agustín Díaz Yanes' Sin noticias de Dios when she shares the stage with Penélope Cruz and Gael García Bernal who received the same Excellence Award Moët & Chandon the last year, here in Locarno.

Locarno, by the way, already "hosted" Victoria Abril on its screens – thanks to a 2000 movie which was presented in the Concorso internazionale: 101 Reykjavik, Baltasar Kormákur's debut film (now he is director of the opening movie of the 66th Festival edition: 2 Guns). That Icelander film and Pedro Almodóvar's Átame! are going to be proposed again at the Festival to pay homage to Victoria Abril; the key moment will be represented by the presentation of the award in Piazza Grande, on the evening of August 10.

Lorenzo Buccella

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